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Which law is easier ⚖️

May 8, 2024

The question came from a fellow countrywoman of ours, who lives in Canada, following the death of her father in that country, as a widower and with assets in Portugal, which is easier to apply Portuguese law to the succession opened by her father’s death or the succession law of the Province of Quebec.


It is well known that when a Portuguese citizen dies in Canada, namely in the Province of Quebec, and had property(ies) located in Portugal and also money deposited in bank accounts in Portugal, the question arises as to whether Portuguese law (the law of nationality) applies to regulate the succession or the law of the place of last residence.

According to Article 21(1) of Regulation (EU) No 650/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of June 4, 2012, the law applicable to the succession as a whole is the law of the State where the deceased had their last habitual residence at the time of death. When the place of death occurred at the deceased’s last habitual residence, specifically in the province of Quebec in Canada, it is important to consider the legal nature of that country. This is because, as Canada is a state made up of several provinces, each of which has its own legislation in terms of succession, under Article 36 of the European Regulation, the law applicable to this succession is the law of the province of Quebec in Canada, as Canada has no internal conflict of laws rules. However, the State of Canada (to whose law of succession the EU
the EU Regulation refers to) comprises several territorial units (Provinces and Federated Territories) which each have their own legal rules on succession.

In such cases, the rule for determining the relevant territorial unit is laid down in the EU Regulation itself, in particular in Article 36 thereof, from which it follows that, since Canada’s legal system is complex and does not have a legislated system of internal conflict-of-laws rules that determine the territorial unit whose rules are applicable, the law in principle applicable to the succession of the deceased is the habitual residence at the time of death. The rules of succession in the Province of Quebec are set out in the so-called “Chapitre CCQ-1991 Code Civil du Québec”, made available online in the so-called “LegisQuébec” (the equivalent of the electronic Official Gazette) by “l’Editeur Officiel du Québec”, and (consultable online on the Official Website of the Province of Quebec, Canada, at:

Pursuant to these conflict rules, succession to real estate (successions portant sur des immeubles) will be governed, in accordance with the lex loci rei sitae principle, by the internal law of the place where the assets are located and succession to movable property (successions portant sur de meubles) will be governed by the internal law of the place of last residence of the person making the succession, pursuant to article 3098 of the C.C.Q..

Thus, the Canadian law of the Province of Quebec (the Code Civil du Québec C.C.Q.) applies to the succession of the movable assets of his estate, regardless of where they are located, and to the succession of the immovable assets of his estate located in that Province; and Portuguese law, by reference to Canadian law, applies to the succession of the immovable assets of his estate located in Portugal.

The rules of succession laid down in Canadian law, which applies to the succession of all the movable and immovable assets of the estate located in the Canadian province of Quebec, mean that when the author of the succession dies without a will or any other provision of last will, for example as a widower with children, only his children are his sole heirs and are called to the succession, the result of the application of Canadian law, for the purposes of calling and qualifying for inheritance in the specific case, is the same as that which would result from the application of Portuguese law.

Judith Teodoro,